I. The Intake Process-What happens prior to the Initial Client Interview?
As an introduction to the clinic, it is helpful to understand how our intake process works. The majority of applications are taken by phone with occasional walk-ins. Information is gathered by completing a prospective client application, a process typically handled by the secretary. Callers should have a response to the applications within a week or so of having submitted the application. Printed applications are kept by the secretary’s desk. Interns are reminded that all communications with clients of the Legal Clinic are subject to the attorney/client privilege and the confidentiality provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Students are expected to comply with all statutory and regulatory confidentiality requirements both during and after their tenure in the Legal Clinic. The Clinic does not accept criminal or bankruptcy cases; UT students are referred to Student Legal Services, x7230.
Clients who are rejected due to heavy caseload receive a formal non-engagement letter from the clinical instructor who reviewed their application. This action is documented in the Intake log, and a copy of the letter and the original application are kept on file. If you are assigned an application by your instructor and a decision is made not to pursue the case, please return the application to the secretary for processing.
II. The Initial Client Interview
The clinical instructor will assign a case or will ask you to contact a prospective client to arrange a meeting. Prior to every initial interview or phone call, interns should review the case file and/or the intake application. Please note that Long-distance telephone calls may only be made from the telephone located in the Clinic conference room; be sure to log these calls.
Prior to the initial interview, interns should prepare a packet that will include: an interview sheet (general or domestic relations); consent to representation by a legal intern form; and a release form (for divorce, please assemble the relevant court schedules). These forms are located in the work area. Students are responsible for completing each of the foregoing forms. Please remember to obtain clients’ signature(s) on the release form. Please discuss questions or concerns with your instructors.
III. Opening a New Client File
Depending on the results of conversations had with the prospective client, a new file will be opened or a non-engagement letter declining the application will be sent. If a case file is opened, the intern should forward all completed forms, i.e. client interview form, consent forms, etc., to the secretary. All new client information is entered into time matters (software that tracks caseload), and also, to the case file log maintained for the academic year.
Conflict Clearance process must be initiated every time a new client file is opened. The conflict clearance sheet lists our client’s name, address, matter, opposing party, and opposing attorney. Each sheet must be circulated to all clinic interns and faculty to be reviewed for conflict of interest and then returned to the secretary.
A new Case File contains 4 legal sized folders (Client Matters--paper fasteners on right and left sides, Correspondence--paper fastener on right side only), Pleadings--paper fastener on right side only, Research--paper fastener on right side only). During the course of the semester, all letters, and memos should be placed in the correspondence file, in reverse chronological order. All pleadings, and other court papers, should be placed in the pleadings file, also in reverse chronological order. All documents provided by clients should be placed in the client matters file. Additional file folders may be used for notes and drafts, exhibits, discovery, etc. as appropriate. A detailed log of all of your activity on a file should be completed on a case action sheet, included on the left side of the client maters folder in, reverse chronological order.
IV. File Management
Case Action Sheets-- Students are required to keep current and accurate track of their time on a case action sheet. Provide a detailed description of all services rendered.
Calendar Memos-- Students are required to record all important case deadlines and court dates, e.g. answer due dates, hearings, pretrials, trials, discovery deadlines, meetings, etc.) on a calendar memo. Submit to your instructor and then the secretary.
Letters, Pleadings, and Memoranda-- All draft letters, pleadings, and other memoranda should be placed in your instructor’s mailbox. The instructor will review. Upon making suggested changes, save the final draft to your flash drive. Return the draft copy and the drive to the Secretary for final print copy. All final documents (and file copies) will be placed in your clinic mailbox for signature. NOTHING WILL LEAVE THE OFFICE WITHOUT THE APPROVAL AND SIGNATURE OF AN INSTRUCTOR. An extra copy of all drafts, revisions, and final writing projects should be placed in the student’s clinic portfolio—copies for your portfolio will be provided. There is a binder in the work area (and a flash drive) containing sample letters and some sample documents. Be certain to place a copy of any final document in the correspondence folder.
Client Funds All funds received from clients shall be deposited into the College of Law Client Trust Account as soon as practical. Document transactions; receipts should be copied to the secretary.
Closing Letters-- Every time a case is closed, students are required to send a closing letter to the client indicating, among other things, that our representation of the client’s interest has been concluded.
End of the Semester Letters-- At the end of the semester, students are required to send a letter to each of their clients advising that a new intern will be assigned to the case and that a clinical instructor will be available in the interim to answer any questions. Also, Case Summation Memos are due at the end of the semester. Students are required to complete a case summation memo for every active case. The purpose of the case summation memo is to inform the next semester’s legal intern of the status of the case.
V. Communication with the Courts
Court Papers-- Students are responsible for copying and filing all court papers with the appropriate court. Another file-stamped copy must be placed in the client file. A third file-stamped copy must be sent to the client.
Service Letters-- Students are responsible for ensuring that a copy of every court paper is served upon the opposing party or counsel, as indicated on the certificate of service appended to the court paper. Students are responsible for ensuring that service letters are mailed on the date indicated on the certificate of service.
Fax filing --please review the rules for the court you are filing in before you rely on this option—check web or style binder. Every facsimile transmission must be recorded on the fax log situated near the fax machine.